With the ongoing battle of the COVID-19 pandemic, the college basketball season will once again be impacted. The start of the year has already been delayed, and several non-conference matchups remain up in the air for the November and December months.
Tennessee’s schedule has already been affected, with the Memphis and Wisconsin matchups being called off. Rick Barnes made that announcement today. Memphis and Tennessee were set to play in Nashville, the third game of a three game series. Wisconsin was going to be Tennessee’s opening game.
“With the Wisconsin game, we tried,” Barnes told reporters on Wednesday. “It was our opener. We just haven’t been able to make it work with what they have to deal with, with their league games and where the flow of the schedule comes in.”
Barnes remained confident that a potential matchup with Gonzaga would be finalized soon. Tennessee announced a Big 12/SEC Challenge date with Kansas earlier today, which will be played in January.
Tennessee was also scheduled to play in the Charleston Classic this season, a tournament that will reportedly be played now in Orlando, Florida. Now faced with a potential lack of non-conference games, these tournaments will be vital for teams to build resumes ahead of conference play. However, details are still being worked out on that front.
“We’re not there with it yet, until we get the guidelines,” Barnes said of the early season tournament. “We need to know how everything is going to be done there. That’s something we’re counting on, but it’s not set in stone yet.”
Florida State, Houston, Oklahoma State, Penn State, Seton Hall, VCU and Charleston are the other members of the eight team field, which would give Tennessee a few competitive early season games.
Barnes also floated the idea of a multi-team event in Knoxville at Thompson-Boling Arena, but again, the details are still being worked out every day.
2020 has been anything but normal, and you likely won’t get a normal basketball season either — at least not the non-conference portion. Everything remains in flux, and you can probably expect some movement in the season as well.
“Believe me, we want to get it done,” Barnes said, speaking of the schedule. “We thought we had it done, but some things came up. Other teams couldn’t do some things. We had to readjust, we’re still doing that. But we haven’t gotten it totally finalized yet.”
The NCAA has made November 25th the official start date for the season, so expect some sort of semi-official schedule announcement in the coming weeks from Tennessee.